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Rethinking the Library Orientation for First Year Experience



Library Orientation, Online Learning, First Year Experience

Presented by:

Caitlin Benallack, Michigan State University

Key Statement:

Libraries are more than just buildings and a library orientation can be more than a tour. One librarian re-imagines a First Year Experience library orientation.


The 21st century library is more than a building, many of its spaces, collections, and services live online. A simple tour of the library building can miss key online resources students will need most and is one-size fits all for students with varying interests. To bring the library orientation experience in line with the realities of the modern library, one librarian, with input from First Year Experience (FYE) instructors, created an online tutorial called the Library Orientation Experience, that allowed students to explore library resources most relevant to their prospective majors, and helped FYE instructors to reclaim valuable class time.

Learning Outcomes:

Generate ideas for new library collaborations.
Analyze what they want their students to get out of library orientations.
Compare and contrast the value of physical and virtual library orientations.

Hear it from the author:

Rethinking the Library Orientation for First Year ExperienceCaitlin Benallack, Michigan State University
00:00 / 01:24


Hello, my name is Caitlin Benallack, and I am here to talk to you about my poster, Rethinking the Library
Orientation for First Year Experience.

In 2018, I was working at Central Michigan University Libraries, and I was tasked with updating the library assignment for FYE 101, a self-guided library tour with an accompanying worksheet, that just wasn’t working anymore. The library space had changed. And The library collections had changed.

To redesign the assignment, I talked to FYE 101 instructors about what they needed. The instructor I ended up collaborating most closely with emphasized her desire for students to recognize resources relevant to their chosen major.

We agreed that an online format would best meet the needs of the students, instructors, and librarians. The final tutorial was built in a tool called LibWizard, and included multiple-choice questions about general library information as well as open-ended questions about resources specific to students’ interests and needs.

What worked about this project?

We can look at a few different metrics. The tutorial was taken by over 900 students over about two and
a half years. It was adopted by other classes such as Library 197 and Business 100. And pre and post-tutorial questions indicated students felt much more confident in their ability to use the library. If this sounds like the kind of project that you are interested in, I encourage you to reach out to the librarians at your home institution. They even already have a tutorial that will meet your needs.


Olsen, R., & Harlow, S. (2022). Creating library tutorials to provide flexibility and customized learning in asynchronous settings. Public Services Quarterly, 18(1), 19–33.

Raish, V., & Behler, A. (2019). Library connection: An interactive, personalized orientation for online students. Journal of Library & Information Services in Distance Learning, 13(1–2), 129–149.

Watts, K. A. (2018). Tools and principles for effective online library instruction: Andragogy and undergraduates. Journal of Library & Information Services in Distance Learning, 12(1–2), 49–55.

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